Shopping for a new market
By Joshua Budd
Public consultation of plans to revitalize a popular student shopping venue have been put on hold.
The joint development team for the new Covent Garden Market decided this week to delay consultation until later in April to give London city council time to consider the feasibility of providing a $19 million loan and tax exemptions for one of the companies making a proposal, said Harvey Gleason, executive vice-president of London's downtown market.
The proposal under consideration, made by the London Civic Centre Corporation, is a plan to build a new market with a 7,000 seat hockey arena with a smaller practice facility attached to it.
The arena proposal is one of three under consideration by the development team. The team is looking for a proposal they think will attract more people to the market and help revitalize the downtown.
"The city said we have problems with the downtown. We have to decide if [the new market] should be bigger, have apartments, entertainment something to bring more people to the downtown," Gleason said.
A proposal from McKay Cocker, a London contracting firm, suggested rebuilding the market on its current King Street site and adding an eight screen movie theatre and residential apartments.
The third proposal under consideration, made jointly by the architect firm Tillmann Ruth Mocellin, Southside Construction and the Canadian Realty Corporation, suggested building a new market in the Richmond, Queens Avenue and Carling Street area with additional retail space, a movie theatre and apartments.
Frank Berry, chair of the development team, said the planning process began six years ago when repairing the building became too expensive. "The building we're in is getting on 50-years old," Berry said. "It's still the bottom floor of a parking garage."
He said the main purpose in requesting proposals was to seek additional uses for the market. He added he does not expect any drastic changes but hopes to improve the quality of vendors.
Despite the current delay, Berry said the process is going according to schedule and he expects to meet the target date for completion of the market in 1999. He added he does not regret the time the development team is taking to make the decision. "We will take our time and do it right," he said.
Karen Brown, general manager of the London Downtown Business Association, said there will be a lot of debate over the issue of public funding and whether or not vendors will be able to afford rent in the new building. However, she felt the new market is important for the city of London as a whole. "A healthy downtown supports the entire city," she said.